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Bridget C O’Brien, Ann N Poncelet, Lori Hansen, David A Hirsh, Barbara Ogur, Erik K Alexander, Edward Krupat and Karen E Hauer
Medical Education 2012: 46:613–624
Context Longitudinal integrated clerkships (LICs) are established, rapidly growing models of education designed to improve the core clinical year of medical school using guiding principles about workplace learning and continuity. This study is the first to report data from direct observations of workplace learning experiences of students on LICs and traditional block clerkships (BCs), respectively.
Methods This multi-institution study used an observational, work-sampling methodology to compare LIC and BC students early and late in the core clinical year. Trained research assistants documented students’ activities, participation (observing, with assistance, alone), and interactions every 10 minutes over 4-hour periods. Each student was observed one to three times early and/or late in the year. Data were aggregated at the student level and by in-patient or out-patient setting for BC students. One-way analysis of variance (anova) was used to compare two groups early in the year (LIC and BC students) and three groups late in the year (LIC, out-patient BC and in-patient BC students).
Results Early-year observations included 26 students (16 LIC and 10 BC students); late-year observations included 44 students (28 LIC, eight out-patient BC and eight in-patient BC students). Out-patient activities and interactions of LIC and BC students were similar early in the year, but in the later period LIC students spent significantly more time performing direct patient care activities alone (25%) compared with out-patient (12%) and in-patient (7%) BC students. Students on LICs were significantly more likely to experience continuity with patients as 34% of their patients returned to them, whereas only 5% of patients did so for out-patient BC students late in the year.
Conclusions By late year, LIC students engage in patient care more independently and have more opportunities to see clinic patients on multiple occasions than BC students. Consistent with the principles of workplace learning, these findings suggest that yearlong longitudinal integrated education models, that rely mostly on ambulatory settings, afford students greater opportunities to participate more fully in the provision of patient care.